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As a professional drone pilot, your UAV must have sustained flight times, a terrific camera, and quick recharging speeds. Whether you’re photographing a wedding or taking video of the next big news story, what are the best drones for you?
Here are the top 9 drones for professional UAV pilots:
- DJI Mavic 2 Pro
- Autel Robotics EVO II Pro
- DJI Mavic Air 2
- DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0
- Freefly Alta 8
- DJI Inspire 2
- DJI Mini 2
- Skydio X2
- Flyability Elios 2
In this extensive guide, we’ll compare each of the above 9 drones in areas such as camera quality, flight time, battery charging speed, and other features. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have certainly landed on your next drone for your professional drone flights!
These Are the 9 Most Recommended Drones for Professional UAV Pilots
DJI Mavic 2 Pro #
The DJI Mavic 2 Pro takes the features of Mavic 2 Zoom and improves upon them in many ways. Designed for stunning aerial photography unlike any you’ve captured before, the Mavic 2 Pro and its Hasselblad camera can take crisp shots that will be a valuable addition to your portfolio.
The Hasselblad L1D-20c camera includes Hasselblad’s own Natural Color Solution or HNCS technology. This tech allows you to take aerial photographs in gorgeous 20 megapixels. By combining RGB color values and mathematics, the HNCS technology will assign your photos an accurate color profile every time.
Videographers, this Hasselblad camera has something for you as well. The Mavic 2 Pro includes 4K 10-bit HDR support so you can hook it up to your 4K TV and watch footage with color-matched tones. H.265 compression and upgraded bitrates improve the codec information storage rate by 50 percent compared to videos using H.264/AVC.
The CMOS sensor equipped with the Hasselblad camera is only an inch in size, but it can increase your ISO range to 12800 from 3200. A 10-bit Dlog-M color profile improves your photography’s dynamic range, as now you can capture more than a billion colors rather than only 16 million.
Set the aperture of the Hasselblad camera, adjusting it between f/2.8 to f/11 so that no matter how much natural light you have (or how little), your photos come out clear and stunning every time.
The Mavic 2 Pro promises 31 minutes of nonstop flight and top speeds of 72 kilometers per hour, which is approximately 44.74 miles per hour.
In optimal temperatures, it takes roughly an hour and a half to recharge each battery included with the Mavic 2 Pro.
Besides its great camera, the Mavic 2 Pro features Hyperlapse. This has four modes: WayPoint, CourseLock, Circle, and Free for less processing of your aerial photos. HyperLight will cut noise from low-light images while naturally enhancing them.
The propellers of the Mavic 2 Pro and its FOC sinusoidal drive ESCs make flying this drone a less noisy experience. Omnidirectional obstacle sensing means the Mavic 2 Pro takes care of identifying obstacles for you so can you focus more on your photography or videography.
ActiveTrack 2.0 lets you chase people on foot or even in a vehicle. With trajectory prediction, you never have to miss a shot!
Autel Robotics EVO II Pro #
Here’s a different drone manufacturer outside of DJI: Autel Robotics, and their EVO II Pro. This folding drone that shoots in 6K ultra-HD has an astonishing flight time and will fly speedily through the air. It even has wind resistance for sustained flight in less than ideal conditions.
The EVO II Pro’s 6K camera is even more impressive than some DJI drones. That’s why it ranks so highly on our list. The Sony CMOS sensor is adept at even low-light photography due to its high degree of sensitivity.
You can adjust the camera settings to an advanced degree, setting the aperture between f.28 to f.11. You can also toggle the ISO range, with the max range up to 12800.
The 10-bit camera will capture a billion unique colors, including those in highlights and shadows that can easily be lost with a lower-quality camera. The 4K video recording has an on-off HDR mode for better color and contrast variation.
Another area where the EVO II Pro shines is its flight time, as it can fly for 40 consecutive minutes. That flight time outpaces even many DJI drones. Its flight speed is 45 MPH, and this UAV has max wind resistance of up to 39 MPH or 17 meters per second.
To get all four batteries included in the EVO II Pro back to full charge, you’ll need to set aside six hours. An approach where you charge half the batteries now and then the other half later will let you get more work done.
Autel’s take on hyperlapse technology is called Hyper-light. This feature works best in low light such as at night. The noise reduction smoothing targets both 2D and 3D noise for cleaner photos.
With LiveDeck HDMI multi-ports, you can stream your videos as you film them. The transmission range is 5.5 miles. Export both photos and videos while your drone is in flight. The EVO II Pro supports both RAW and JPEG photo formats.
The number of sensors throughout the EVO II Pro is sure to impress. This drone includes 12 different visual sensors and 19 sensor groups. With IMUs, ultrasounds, and main camera sensors as well, the EVO II Pro can create 3D maps of your surroundings in real-time, updating said maps as you go along.
Dynamic Tracking models target speed and location as well as predict trajectory. Are you in a busy place? No problem. The EVO II Pro can identify 64 targets at once and avoid them all.
DJI Mavic Air 2 #
Almost as good as the Mavic 2 Pro is DJI’s Mavic Air 2. With its teeny-tiny image sensor, high-quality photos and videos, and a flight time that maxes out at over 30 minutes, this travel-friendly drone can help you check more off your work to-do list.
The Mavic Air 2 features an enhanced HDR camera that shoots photos in 48MP quality thanks to its half-inch CMOS sensor. The 4K video at 60 frames per second is utterly lifelike. Transmit video footage up to 10 kilometers in 1080p quality for all your drone videography jobs on the go.
The Mavic Air 2 will fly for 34 nonstop minutes. This drone can achieve speeds of 68 KPH (42.25 MPH) when in Sport Mode.
Charging this DJI drone’s battery takes about two hours, which is slower than the Mavic 2 Pro by 30 minutes.
The Quad Bayer image sensor included with the Mavic Air 2 improves your dynamic range with HDR settings that you can toggle off and on. Since exposure levels vary by frame, you won’t lose dark or light details.
SmartPhoto features HDR, HyperLight, and scene recognition in one mode. Choose between five different modes for shooting trees, snow, grass, the sky, or a beautiful sunset. Since SmartPhoto includes HyperLight, your photos will shine even in dim conditions.
The HDR Panorama mode lets you capture more of the world around you in wide-screen shots that are sure to stand out. FocusTrack is an intelligent tracking module with Point of Interest 3.0, Spotlight 2.0, and ActiveTrack 3.0.
With 8K Hyperlapse, you can speed up or slow down space and time. Select from the same Hyperlapse modes as available in the Mavic 2 Pro.
Multidirectional obstacle avoidance and an included auxiliary light make the obstacle avoidance capabilities of this drone quite extraordinary.
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 #
The latest Phantom drone from DJI is the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, which drone pilots will quite appreciate. This UAV for drone photography and videography boasts a great camera, intelligent flight modes, and the DJI GO 4 app for tracking battery life.
The gimbal camera that comes with your Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 will take photos and videos in superb, lifelike quality. Your video resolution is 4K at 60fps while photos are 20MP.
The camera includes a mechanical shutter to prevent rolling shutter distortion. Switch to Burst Mode to capture footage in 20 MP quality at 14 fps.
The CMOS sensor is more advanced compared to other DJI drones. The Phantom 4 Pro V2.0’s camera has a wide-angle f/2.8 lens for capturing and maintaining the quality and detail of your work.
The D-Log color profile for videos, when combined with this drone’s H.265 codec, ensures that your videos have an amazing dynamic range. The 100 Mbps bitrate even lets you capture footage or photos in slow motion.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 can fly for 30 minutes. That should give you enough time to get a lot of work done.
The Intelligent Flight Battery included with the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 can sometimes take three hours to charge. You might not be comfortable with that much downtime when you rely on your drone to make money.
With its variety of intelligent flight modes, the Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 flies further without you having to guide it. You can use Gesture Mode to take aerial selfies just by raising your arms. Draw Mode lets you customize your flight path by hand.
TapFly is another course-routing mode that lets you tap to set a route. ActiveTrack will have your drone follow you wherever your adventures take you while Return to Home always brings your UAV back to one reliable place.
The FlightAutonomy mode uses automation and aerial intelligence to draw up 3D maps in real-time. With compasses and redundant IMUs, errors become less likely. Five-direction obstacle avoidance also enhances the accuracy of your flight paths.
OcuSync 2.0 HD image and video transmission lets you send (or receive) video up to 10 kilometers at 1080p quality. You could even live-stream your drone videos if you wanted to.
Since OcuSync uses different gigahertz frequency bands, it maintains quality transmission for your viewers.
Freefly Alta 8 #
Here’s another non-DJI drone brand for your consideration: Freefly. The company’s Alta 8 drone is about as professional-grade as it gets. You’ll certainly turn heads when you show up to work with this UAV by your side!
The film-friendly Wave camera (which appears to be sold separately) is very lightweight. It captures 2K quality footage at 1,440 fps or 4K footage at 420 fps. The S35 sensor and two terabytes of storage sweeten the deal even further.
Movi Pro integration allows you to use the Wave camera even if you’re 2,500 feet from the Alta 8. Its Solid State Recording mode promotes safe powering down every time. The camera can record for an hour and a half at a clip.
You don’t get a lot of time out of the Freefly Alta 8, only 15 minutes if the drone is at 15 pounds of payload. By reducing its payload, the flight time might increase just a bit.
Transport up to 20 pounds on the Alta 8, as its pro payloads can handle it. If your drone works as hard as you do, then this UAV is certainly a good pick.
The SYNAPSE Flight Controller is a sensitive remote that responds to your every movement. The carbon propellers are sure to last while the swan-neck carbon booms enhance your photos and videos.
With quick-release bottom and top trays, you can get set up at your worksite in just a couple of minutes, according to Freefly.
DJI Inspire 2 #
A follow-up to a much-beloved DJI drone, the Inspire, the Inspire 2 is another great drone for professional filmmakers to consider. It has a remarkable 4K camera, a rotating gimbal, and its own video transmission system, all features which benefit your videography.
The Inspire 2’s 4K camera includes CineCore 2.1, an image processing system that lets you choose video recording modes. You can switch between H.265/H.264 at 100 Mbps, 5.2K with 2.08 Gbps Apple ProRes, or 6K at 4.4 Gbps CinemaDNG.
Photographers, DJI didn’t forget about you with the CineCore 2.1 system. This technology can also take burst photography, including continuous DNG bursts at up to 20 fps and a quality of 24 MP if you’re using Zenmuse X7, an alternate DJI camera.
Even without the Zenmuse, the Inspire 2’s CineCore 2.1 image processing system can produce 10 DNG JPEG bursts at a time.
The video transmission rate of the Inspire 2 is up to 4.3 miles away, in which your videos will still be broadcast in 1080p quality. By toggling between control frequencies, you can enjoy a reliable signal strength during your transmission.
The DJI Inspire 2 can fly for 27 minutes nonstop with max flight speeds of 58 MPH.
Your Inspire 2 drone will be ready to fly in three to four hours of recharge time after its batteries are depleted.
Stay further away from potential flight risks with downward and forward vision systems that can pick up on obstacles at distances of 30 meters even when at a 25-degree attitude angle. The upward sensors can detect obstacles 16 feet above you, which is perfect if you do drone photography and videography indoors.
The tracking mode known as Spotlight Pro features visual tracking algorithms created by DJI to select a subject and then stay close to them. Even if the Inspire 2 isn’t going in the same direction as its subject, Spotlight Pro continues to do its thing.
Before its gimbal can hit its limits, this UAV will rotate in the direction of the gimbal so the gimbal can continue moving as needed.
Switch between ActiveTrack and TapFly, two intelligent flight modes included with the Inspire 2. This drone is lacking other intelligent flight options compared to some of the DJI drones we discussed, which might be a downside for you.
DJI Mini 2 #
The last DJI drone we recommend for professional UAV pilots is the Mini 2. This foldable drone can fly for over a half-hour in 4K quality. Its level-five wind resistance ensures that you can take more outdoor photos and videos, which is a must if you’re a drone real estate photographer or you do land surveying with a UAV.
The DJI Mini 2 has a 4K 12MP camera with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor. Its F2 fixed aperture is 24 millimeters while the ISO range is between 100 and 3200.
Panorama photos are easy to snap with the camera’s 180-degree wide-angle lens.
Like some of the other professional DJI drones we’ve covered, the Mini 2 is equipped with OcuSync 2.0 video transmission at 10 kilometers. Anti-interference technology ensures that your signal isn’t interrupted.
When you’re done shooting for the day, access the DJI Fly app on your phone to transfer and then optimize your photos. The app will improve the image quality for you, enhancing both the details and color.
Do you have a lot of footage to capture for work? The Mini 2 can fly for 31 consecutive minutes, making it akin to other DJI drones.
Taking advantage of the Quick Charge 2.0 18-watt USB charger, an 1100 mAh battery charges in 50 to 90 minutes.
The Mini 2 weighs under 249 grams, so it really does live up to its name. DJI says that the closest weight equivalent to this drone is an apple. (But you still have to register it if you’re using it professionally).
The UAV also compacts so you can easily stash it in your travel bag and be on your way.
If winds are between 29 and 38 KPH (18 to 24 MPH), the Mini 2 won’t buckle. That’s even if you’re at altitudes of up to 4,000 meters.
QuickShots is a feature that makes you look like a drone master. Choose modes such as Boomerang, Circle, Rocket, Helix, and Dronie to impress your colleagues and your boss.
Automatic takeoff lets your drone get in the sky faster while Smart Return to Home ensures your UAV never gets lost, even if it’s out of your sight.
Skydio X2 #
Skydio’s impressive X2 is an awesome patrol drone for job responsibilities such as military defense, public safety, and enterprise roles. Its long flight time, wide range of obstacle avoidance, and wireless sharing range for transmitting photos and videos are other reasons to consider this drone.
The X2 includes a 4K60P FLIR thermal camera that captures footage in high-quality colorful HD. The camera can zoom up to 16x so you can film even the teeny tiniest of details. The wide-angle color lens makes inspections easy.
The six to 10-kilometer wireless range helps you transmit footage as you collect it. Within six kilometers, the wireless range is five gigahertz, and it’s 1.8 gigahertz at 10 kilometers.
The Skydio X2 can fly for 35 minutes at a time, which is not bad!
Skydio’s batteries are known to charge quickly, especially when you use their wall adapter. Per battery, the charging time is around an hour.
This foldable UAV has a pinch-release antenna and arms that fold so you can carry the X2 anywhere. According to Skydio, it takes less than 75 seconds for you to unpack the X2 and have it flying.
Its carbon-fiber and magnesium composite airframe use Arris Composites Additive Molding technology for durability while minimizing weight.
Precision GPS night flight technology and strobing lights make flying even after dark safe, and FAA compliant. The strobing lights have infrared wavelength and white visible light options that you can turn off or on.
With 360 degrees of obstacle avoidance, you won’t have to worry about being surprised by anything around you when flying the X2.
Flyability Elios 2 #
The last drone we recommend for professional UAV pilots is the Flyability Elios 2. This inspection drone will certainly grab attention for its unique looks, but it’s got lots of great features as well. These include collision detection, stabilization, and an ultra-HD camera.
Included with the Elios 2 is a 4K ultra-HD camera as well as a FLIR thermal camera. Whether you need to do thermal imaging or take photos or videos, you can count on the Elios 2. The cameras are also capable of tracking aircraft information, flight parameter data, and measurement data.
You can even mount the cameras side by side, as the Elios 2 has a front payload.
The 4K resolution for the Elios 2’s HD camera is 3840 by 2160 with a focal length of 2.71 millimeters. JPEG images are 12MP while videos are in MOV format and 4K ultra-HD quality.
Switch between 4K UHD or FHD 1080p resolutions. You can also stream video in HD in real-time.
Admittedly, this drone can’t fly for long periods, only 10 minutes at a clip.
Collision resilience allows the Elios 2 to keep motoring along, even in confined spaces. The stabilization built into this drone helps you stay in control. With distance locking, you can determine patterns in your data easily.
Switch between oblique and dustproof lighting. Oblique lighting is for identifying defects, as asperities will have visual shadows. The dustproof lighting lets you see out of the Elios 2’s camera even if conditions are less than optimal.
There you have it, 9 of the top drones for professional UAV pilots. Whether you use your drone for surveying, inspecting, or filming, with the variety of drones we discussed today, there’s surely one on the list that’s right for you.